These Christmas-themed picture books share a variety of spiritual aspects of the season's experiences, the Nativity and Hanukkah.
“JESUS IS BORN!” by Shauna Gibby, illustrated by Casey Nelson, Deseret Book, $16.99, 32 pages
“Jesus is Born!” is a “flashlight discover book” with images that can be seen when a light is shown behind the pages.
The images on the front side of the page leave a space for the image to shine through.
Starting with Mary and Joseph, “Jesus is Born” tells the story of the couple going to Bethlehem to be taxed, Joseph looking for an inn and the visitors who came the night of baby Jesus’ birth. It also shares the signs of Jesus’ birth in the Book of Mormon.
On each page is a short summary and then a question, which is answered by the image that appears when the light is shown through the page.
It’s a fun, interactive way to share the Nativity story.
A young child asks, “Are You the Babe in Bethlehem?” as he searches for Baby Jesus. Along the way he talks to Zacharias, Elisabeth, Joseph, Mary, shepherds, Wise Men, King Herod and others. As the child searches, each person or group shares who each is and how they tie into the Nativity story. Author Dona Haws shares biblical scripture references for each person or group. It shares a simple yet strong testimony of Jesus Christ and that he is the “babe in Bethlehem.”
“Christmas Angels” opens with the question: “If you had been there that first Christmas day, what would you do to prepare the way?”
Sharing ways to help that day — helping Joseph find a place for Mary, helping with the straw and animals, shining a light for the wise men — author and illustrator Rachelle Castor shares a different perspective of the Nativity story. She ties it to modern day with “What gift will you give to share and to bless by the way you live?”
With one baby and two parents to 12 trees, this book looks at different numbers of items in the Nativity story. With rhythmic verses that rhyme, the board book shares about the angels, gifts, sheep and other symbols of the season. (Some of the items are quite creative.)
With almost comical illustrations, it’s a fun book for children who are learning to count as they go through each item.
Based on the style of the “All-of-a-Kind Family” books by Sydney Taylor published in the 1950s-1970s, “All-of-a-Kind Family Hanuakkah” shares about the Festival of Lights from the perspective of 4-year-old Gertie, who wants to help her four older sisters and mother with getting the meal ready.
But she’s too young to help peel or grate potatoes or fry the latkes, and it’s frustrating when everyone tells her to go play.
It’s a peek in the lives of a Jewish family in 1912 as they prepare for Hanuakkah and also explains what the traditions are and why.
There is a glossary in the back to help with pronunciations.
The illustrations draw in the readers with pictures of the family’s multitude of preparations and the emotions of a young girl.
“MY FIRST JEWISH BABY BOOK,” by Julie Merberg, illustrated by Beck Feiner, Downtown Bookworks, $10.99 (ages 0-3)
This technically isn’t a book specifically about Hanukkah, but it does share several of the terms as Julie Merberg shares terms, people and celebrations from A to Z in “My First Jewish Baby Book.”
“D is for Dreidel,” “G is for Gelt,” “H is for Hanukkah,” “L is for Latkes” and “M is for … Menorah” are some of the Hanukkah-related terms that are shared.
Some letters in this board book have multiple words, just about all have a short explanation and there are colorful drawings for all of the letters.
“IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL**: The True Story of the Writing of the Beloved Hymn,” by David T. Warner, as narrated by Hugh Bonneville, paintings by Robert Hunt, Shadow Mountain and Mormon Tabernacle Choir, $18.99, 32 pages**
The history of the song “It is Well With My Soul” is a tender one with both heartache and joy.
Narrator Hugh Bonneville shared this tender story of Horatio and Anna Spafford at the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s Christmas concert last year.
The Spaffords' four daughters drowned with the sinking of the Ville du Havre as they traveled to Paris in 1873 during the Christmas season.
The Spaffords later moved to Jerusalem to do humanitarian work and later expanded it as they sought to serve.
Keep the tissues handy as it’s a story of loss, but also of hope as the Spaffords listened to promptings to help them hope, heal and have faith.
The paintings, many of them of landscapes, are beautiful alongside photos of the family.
A farmer in a village in the English countryside can see the community’s lights from his hilltop home. When World War II starts and communities are asked to hang curtains to block out the light within, the bulbs from street lamps are removed so they won't be seen by overhead warplanes. The farmer helped collect and store the bulbs.
As Christmas approached, the farmer devises a plan to help everyone on the ground and in the air remember the reason for the season.
It’s a heartwarming and tender story with beautiful illustrations about what one person can do to help shine a light for others in the dark.
This picture book follows the story of a red cardinal named Denali who lives near the North Pole. Denali is a Christmas cardinal whose songs help bring the Christmas spirit. This year she is having trouble feeling the Christmas spirit, and when she asks Santa what to do, she shares about baby Jesus and to “search for your Savior.”
In her search, she encounters several situations to help others in this story about finding ways to serve and seeking understanding in this book by Utah author Holly Ann Gardner.
A CD with five songs accompanies the book, and there are notes in the book of when to play each song.